I stayed in Paris Saturday night with the family, then on Sunday morning, after brunch on a soggy Paris morning, I headed to Tours, I had a huge amount of work to do. I spent two days, one of them with the heaviest rain I’ve seen in years, I had to stop working for awhile just to listen to it. My girls were in Paris, so I had the house to myself, this was good because I needed to spread out. I took over the dining table, with laptop, Ableton controller, interface…I had three tasks to complete: program the laptop accompaniment to the Posies upcoming shows; definitively learn the Elliott Smith songs for the upcoming show at Bourges; upload the mixes of The Phantom Sound‘s album to the mastering engineer’s FTP site. They requested multiple mono files instead of stereo files, so it took some time to export all that, and then upload on our super slow hamster-powered French internet. The Elliott Smith song I’d been practicing since March, but I really went thru them thoroughly over these days. And the Posies songs…well.
So, I’ve been very mysterious about the recording process, on purpose I’ve not been blogging about it. I wanted to keep those experiences for ourselves, and let an air of mystique develop over the sessions. In this day and age, it’s not the preferred strategy, but it was part of my artistic process to keep a lid on things…more like Jack White, say, than…how most bands operate. But the door is open now, as the songs have been performed.
A few words about what I feel the Posies are, and how our relationship and self identification might differ from your relationship with us, and the identity you have assigned to us. The band began in 1987 as a project with Jon and myself. We already shared a few years of history together playing in different bands and experimenting with all kinds of music in Jon’s incredible home studio in Bellingham. Being the 1980s, it was a great age for studio trickery and technique and using the studio as an instrument; but what interested us the most was song craft. I loved the power of punk rock, but the power of a great composition–its ability to survive any kind of musical framework and retain its intention, that intrigued us both. We wanted to write songs that could be played on just two acoustic guitars, or with a band, or …hell, anything–an orchestra, a sequencer…and you’d be able to recognize the song. An anti Milli Vanilli, if you will. That was the era of the Posies. Milli Vanilli, hair metal, etc…where attitude, production seemed to be the first priority over meaningful songwriting. The Northwest alternative scene was growing and healthy, but it had a fixation with scuzz and beer and …well, punk attitude. It’s not like Soundgarden, Green River, et al were great songwriters yet. Notably, Soundgarden would end up sounding like a hard rock Beatles by the time of their peak, and would put a great deal of effort into songwriting. But at this time, it was about the primal scream…too much compositional framework would be too brainy for the scene. We were looking way beyond this…we liked our contemporaries, but we liked…well, great music from any era. Like how it’s cool to be an expert on former musical styles (Mark Ronson, anyone?) we were like that … then. We still are… we are just…way beyond just recreating old styles, we like to make music that’s individual and unique. It’s a choice, and we don’t judge others if they want to do a Mark Ronson (esp. if turns out like this).
Getting back to the history, we made Failure, as a duo. We played shows as a duo. We had bass and drums on the album (played by myself Jon, respectively) and we had imagined having players join us, but no one was interested. Then by some kind of cosmic absurdity, we had a radio hit. Then another…in like 2 weeks. Suddenly, we had shows, we had press, and we met two great musicians who lived a block away from me in Seattle. Jon moved down, and we started to promote Failure. The Posies were a band, but we were also a songwriting duo. We were too eager to please, and also too busy to really spell things out; Failure was our album. The band got signed, and the next album was made by the band, and it belonged to the band (we wrote all the songs, tho–we were at least clear about that). Folks, we were 20 years old (Jon 19) when we got signed. There was a lot to take on, a lot to comprehend. Anyway, by the 2000s, after splitting up, it should be clear that the band was Jon & I, and also Jon & I with Darius & Matt, our third rhythm section since the band started. And then in recent years, we’ve been going back and playing our old music with the rhythm sections from the 90s– Dave Fox & Mike Musburger, Joe Skyward & Brian Young. We even mixed and matched — our last Seattle show had Darius on drums and Dave on bass. So…what’s the band? The songs, are what stay. People are attached to the players, and then they chance, and then its OK. Beyond a one off show I did on NYE in 1993 w/o Jon, who had other plans, I would never do a show called the Posies without Jon, but I fully believe that when Jon & I play, it’s the Posies, with no one else there. We have had some great shows, as a duo (Utrecht in December, anyone?). In fact, I love playing with the rhythm sections, but not 100% of the time — the duo shows allow more subtlety in the guitar playing, the singing and puts the focus on the songs; the band inevitably becomes something like Who, or a punk band. The choruses are there, the songs are still there, too…but it’s not subtle, and I think the vocals suffer a bit. Anyway, the fact of the matter is, we’ve been playing these kind of full band, rock shows, with little change except writing some new songs and adding a little more keyboard. Meanwhile, my solo evolution has really developed with a certain kind of minimalism. I have done some mega shows, like my live album. But the intimacy of the solo performance is where I feel I have the most freedom.
So, the Posies duo shows actually feel more free for me, than the band shows. We can make a more spontaneous set list, a broader set list, and I feel the music can be heard more clearly. Any loud band can be a loud band. Not every band can have great songs, or at least bothers to take the care to have the standards to write them. And the duo performances, I think, are special for how they let the songs shine thru.
So, that’s the context for what we’re doing with this album and the shows we’re doing right now. With the album, tho, we’re so proud of what we’ve recorded, we want that shared too…so, we’ve got Ableton Live running alongside us for the songs. Then we thought it would be fun to try some old songs with some programming too, give them a new twist. We can always play songs just the two of us, but this is a new way to do it, it’s inspiring for us. In the set we can choose to play songs w/ or w/o accompaniment. I’m very proud of the new arrangements. Sometimes they are serious, sometimes they are sacrilegious. They are playful, musical, inventive. What they are, for sure… what this, playing with the laptop thing is, is different. Different is equatable with new. And new, untried, challenges. I live for these moments– too much running on the treadmill of familiarity and it has the reverse effect of a gym’s treadmill–I will start to show excess spiritual flab. Many bands make a fine career playing the oldies circuit. They play cruises and casinos, family-friendly shows in the park on Sundays. It’s all fine, and would be one way to age gracefully. I’m just not…I’m too used to doing what I love, which is creating. Playing the songs we’ve written, I’ve written, over the years, is wonderful, an honor, the songs that still touch something in me I’m happy to perform as many times as they carry the effect. But I continue to write, continue to move forward. I only reminisce when asked to. Most days I’m staring ahead at the blank canvas. Waiting for the future to tell me what it needs from me.
On Tuesday morning, the cab came at something like 7am. I’d managed to get a decent nights’ sleep. It was a gorgeous morning. I got to the station in Tours, took the short hop to St. Pierre, and then was on one of those old fashioned TER’s on my way to Angers. I felt good, relaxed, rested, and prepared. In picturesque Angers, Yann picked met me at the station, and we loaded my gear into his car, and went to the very unpicturesque industrial park which houses the former slaughterhouse, now a music venue, theater and rehearsal complex known as the Chabada. It wasn’t even 10am yet. I hunkered down in a dressing room while the musicians and crew arrived. It’s a big project, the Elliott Smith project known as the “Color Bars Experience”. Yann and arranger Christophe conceived the project. Yann works as the administrator for the local symphony orchestra. Basically, they’ve taken Elliott Smith’s “Figure 8” album, and arranged all the songs for a small orchestral group. There’s a string quartet (Yann’s wife is the principal violinist); a percussionist playing vibes, glockenspiel, hand percussion and orchestral chimes; upright bass; French horn (yes, it’s just ‘horn’ to French people); bassoon; flute; a guitarist playing electric & acoustic guitar as well as an 8 string ukelele; a drummer, and Jamie, front person of local bands in Angers, singing backgrounds. We have a sound engineer, lighting tech, a couple of other general crew members. A monitor engineer for the rehearsals. The room we rehearsed in was like a small theatre space, it wasn’t like a grungy band rehearsal room. The stage decor was in place. In front of the place where the musicians were assembled were a couple of couches and chairs. It was generally quite dark in the room so it would be like the show, the ‘stage’ was lit like it would be in Bourges. This was the second day of rehearsals, they’d already spent a day with the other two singers– Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle, and Troy von Balthazar. So, we soon dove in to my songs; we were each singing 4-5 numbers. I felt very good. The run thru’s were quite good, there were a few small musical or performance issues, either mine, or the ensembles, but really, the vibe was there. We ran thru all the songs a few times, and broke for lunch, which was served in the bar of the venue.
Then back to it, we did two full run thru’s of the program with all the singers. They fine tuned things, and did run thrus of the songs I sing but sung by the other singers, for the upcoming broadcast on French radio (I was invited but already booked to play with the Posies that weekend). We all felt wonderful, really. By about 6pm we were cracking open beers and having an apero; Then, we stuffed all the stuff and people into various vehicles and dropped us off at the hotel, so we could dump bags/gear. And immediately head out to eat! Dinner tonite was at the townhouse, maintained by the orchestra for visiting soloists, in the center of town. Several of the ensemble were staying there. We went en masse to the Monoprix, bought groceries, and the French folk fell in to the role of cooking. There were salads, spreads, cheeses, saucisson, wine. There were quite a few of us. I spent most of the evening speaking with Jamie about his band, and also with the violist about 20th century music. Then it was time to get some rest. Well, almost; Jason, Jaime and I had a last beer (no wine to be had) at an Irish pub on the way back to the hotel. Still, I was in bed at a decent hour.
Up the next morning, I think we were on the road in a caravan of cars, by 9.30. No breakfast at the hotel, but I had a croissant on the way, fresh out of the oven…at the gas station. There was a lot of luggage, instruments and humans to move. I was stuffed into guitarist Bert’s car, w two more musicians, and a ton of stuff. I myself slept on the drive, trying to avoid speaking too much, wanting my voice to rest. We arrived to Bourges, to the hotel; it was too early to check in, but we could drop bags. I dropped my suitcase and guitar, just in the lobby bar. I’d never be that trusting in Paris, but Bourges is pretty mellow. Then we had shuttle vans to take us to the venue, the Auditorium of Bourges, a modern theatre with very steep seating, for about 300 people. It means that even the back row is not too far from the stage. I claimed my dressing room (there were two rooms for the three singers, obv. mine was going to get crowded soon, as you’ll see), then we went to catering for lunch. The Printemps de Bourges Festival has been running for a long time. In more recent years they’ve lowered the international content and nowadays book primarily French artists. There are several venues around the city that host shows, and then a lot of informal, outside the program shows that happen in bars that week. All of Paris’ movers and shakers come, and in fact, much of Paris comes — it’s spring break, after all. Dominique worked for the festival for many years, doing for the big venue what our friend Alan was doing for this venue–overseeing the backstage.
As the stage was being set up for soundcheck, two VIPs arrived to the backstage: Dom & Aden. They came from Paris. Of course, this was old home week for Dom. Aden arrived, on skateboard, and proceeded to attack the small bowl of candy bars in the dressing room.
After the soundcheck was done for the instruments, we ran thru my songs, at least the first minute of each of them. There was a great deal of energy in the room, already, even with an empty theatre, our own focus and intensity was creating a real psychic wave. After the soundcheck, we had press. I did an interview with the French national radio, in French no less, and then, no less, translated for Troy & Jason’s interview. Then, a team from France 2 Television set up in my room and I did an interview with them, in French. Jason & Troy did individual interviews with them in English. Then it was getting close to showtime– the venue opened at 6pm with music getting underway not much later. I found Franky Stein, with whom I’d played in Toulouse the month before, out front, and gave him a ticket. He’s originally from Bourges.
I was so fidgety, nothing to do but pace, make endless cups of hot water with fresh ginger, pee a thousand times. I couldn’t really stay in one place, so I could barely watch Black Ya Ya, our support, which is a duo fronted by the singer of Herman Dune. Very simple songs, and he delivered the last part of his set sans PA (sound familiar?). Then it was time. My god. I was…pretty nervous. None of us–Troy, Jason, myself — trusted our memories when our nerves were this edgy. Thank god we had a music stand out front. We all used cheat sheets, even tho I didn’t really need to look at them, at times, I was so focused that my memory actually fell away from the superconscious moment…it was good to have them there as something to pull me back to the context around the moment. Troy even still managed to get lost in one song, with the lyrics out there with him. Well. I made no errors, and I drew up sensation and power from a very deep place. The first song was “Son of Sam” which needs a powerful delivery, and I felt it, 100%. (Here’s some video of the performance) Followed by “Easy Way Out” which is a heartbreaking number demanding both sensitivity but certain crescendos over the music. Then, “Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud” which starts with something low but climaxes with a very challenging chorus, that breaks in to falsetto. This was one of those performances that I was so into it, I don’t remember it, barely. I was in pure moment. No showbiz, just feeling. I wasn’t there to entertain. I was there to transmit. It’s very powerful when it works. I’d actually forgotten to put my earplugs in for this first set, so I just ran with it. It wasn’t super loud on the stage, by any means, the drums and guitars were not that loud plus they were far. Still…an adjustment.
Then Troy and Jason did performances. I was so fidgety, I could hardly watch, and, from the chairs in the wings where we could wait to go on, I could barely hear. I kept refilling my ginger water and peeing. Dom & Aden were in the audience. I returned for my next songs: “In the Lost & Found” and “Stupidity Tries”. The count in for “Stupidity Tries” is quite tricky, but I had Bert to guide me, he mouthed the count for each bar in the intro. These were great performances, I felt more at home now, a little less scared. Still intense, but I could own it a bit more. Earplugs were in too. Then, Troy and I joined Jason, he sang lead and we sang backups, on “Can’t Make A Sound”. The audience’s response to the show, overwhelming. There’s a last song that Jason sings as an encore. He couldn’t even finish it, he broke in to tears before it was over, and left the stage. As you can imagine, the effect rippled thru the audience. Many people had been in tears for most of the performance, according to Dom. The ovation lasted several minutes. We took our bows. And then it was done. Everyone played marvelously, I have to commend the ensemble, the singers…
All this on an empty stomach, too. We packed up the dressing room and moved our belongings to the production office. Then we all went to catering. The emotional impact of the show, plus the release of tension from the build up of intensity, plus the lack of food since hours before…the wine went to my head, for sure. I was quickly wobbly but we were stuck there for hours while we waited our pre-arranged pickup to get us all back to the hotel. We did make it eventually, and I crashed.
Up the next morning, we had breakfast and one by one tried out the insane jacuzzi tub in the room. We gathered in the lobby and I saw shuttles taking people away, one by one. Dom, Aden & I had our own van to get to the train station. As you can imagine, Bourges is a small station, and as you can imagine, the day after the last day of the festival, the station is overwhelmed by Parisians. In fact, they had controllers on the way to the train. The train was sold out; Dom & Aden had standing room only tickets. But, Troy, who was supposed to be on the train with us, ended up riding with the documentary crew that’s making a film about him, all the way to Rouen. So, there was *one* empty seat, next to me…we squeezed the three of us into the two seats. We all slept, stuffed like mice in a nest. Got to Paris, and I didn’t have much time to make my train to Rouen. So, I caught one cab, they caught another (you can walk from Austerlitz to our flat, but it was pouring rain). Got to St. Lazare, and made my train, these little regional trains are quite comfortable. It’s not a long ride to Rouen. At the station, one of the promoters, Freddy, met me, then the other, Thierry, came and picked me up in his car. We popped by the hotel so I could freshen up, then we went to the venue, Le Kalif. I thought the name was some kind of Moroccan thing but it turns out the business that was in the same spot before was called “Le Kalifornien” as in, a dude like me. It’s a rehearsal complex with a central bar where you can do shows–there’s no stage but there’s a kind of natural layout to the room. While Troy sound checked I zonked out on the couch. I was totally drained by the Bourges performance. In fact, I had no idea where I was going to get the energy to do a solo set. My head was so not in that music. Originally, Jingo, a band from London, was going to open the show. But Troy didn’t want to follow a band, and being the headliner it was his call. So, they were to go on last. But, they were coming to town as if they were still first on — meaning, under normal circumstances, they would soundcheck last. Troy sound checked first, then I did, but instead of what could happen if I was indeed opening– I could leave all my stuff set up, I had to pack it up, then Jingo arrived, sound checked, and had to tear their whole set up down, and I put mine back together. Also, this meant I would be going on much earlier, perhaps to an empty room. That wasn’t really going to fly so I negotiated that I could start as late as I want. We were expecting a good crowd but it wasn’t sure they would be punctual. In fact, I went on at about 8.40, instead of 8. By then there was actually a really good crowd. OK, here we go. Ahem. You know what? It was great. I think, the emotions that were brought up by the Elliott performance were still carrying over…I found some pretty deep stuff. And it was a great audience, they really loved the intimacy of the performance. Thierry is a fan of “Touched” so I honored that notion with a very good performance of “Find Yourself Alone”. I don’t know how long I played, as usual I just played what I felt until I felt it was time to stop, no one told me to stop any sooner. I closed out with a version of “September Gurls”, there was a guy there who mentioned he was a real fan of Big Star.
For the duet, I have to admit, I hadn’t thought about it. Usually, I either know someone who will be at the show, or I contact the support, or I contact the promoter…but my mind was so deep into the Elliott Smith and Posies shows I hadn’t done that. So, perhaps the singer of Jingo (see below) could have done it, but as she wasn’t at soundcheck, who knows. However, as I was struck with the realization that I’d totally forgotten about the duet, I heard part of the team making Troy’s documentary,
Troy hadn’t played a show in 2 years. I have no idea how he survives, he seems to live on air, between residences in Berlin and L.A.. He’s a mysterious individual in many ways. He speaks simply, I think sometimes he speaks platitudinally, shall we say; I think to make things peaceful and clear he refrains from indulging in too much complexity. Musically he is a minimalist, just playing guitar and accompanying himself via various loops that he makes on the guitar with different pedals (he ingeniously does fade outs, too, with a volume pedal). His voice is a kind of moaning, crying, sometimes it’s hard to pick out words but the effect is very compelling. He blends into the music, and you’re forced to try and approach him to get more out of it. People loved it, that’s for sure.
Jingo are an energetic four piece, fronted by Katie, an American singer/keyboardist from Brooklyn, with her Londoner husband Jack on guitar, and a rhythm section. I had a great time watching them, they have great spirit, she bounces around like she’s standing on hot coals. There’s some quite haunting moments where she sings thru a harmonizer, it’s kind of reminiscent of “Hide And Seek” by Imogen Heap. They were super nice folks.
We had fun talking after the show, guzzling cheap (well, we’re in the band, it’s FREE) wine. Great people there that night. And then it had to end. Bedtime.
BERGEN OP ZOOM, 5/1
Up and showered and shaved, and dropped by Freddy at the train station. Rouen’s train station is darling, an art nouveau gem; too bad they’re going to abandon it for a new thing on the other side of town. Oh well. Got on my train to Paris, working on the latest versions of the Posies live set, Jon was sending me updated stems, etc. Got to Paris and tried to work my way out of Gare St. Lazare, always a problem. If you follow the signs that indicate the exit towards the Taxi rank, you end up in the basement. Eventually you just have to get out of the building, somehow (it’s not only a train station, but a pretty big shopping mall) and realize they aren’t going to make it easy. So, I got out, to the main square. No taxis. With some walking around (with bags, guitar etc) I saw the taxi rank…way up the block, in front of the Hilton Hotel. The entire block has construction barriers guiding you on a winding path, you have to run that maze, and finally, you are rewarded with a taxi. Just barely–as the construction eats of the sidewalk and this pedestrian passage eats up a lane of traffic, the taxis are technically queuing in another lane of traffic. Just as I got in mine, the police came to give tickets to all the other cabs waiting and drive them off. Anyway, I got home and got to spend an hour or so with Dom & Aden before getting another cab, and heading to my train to Antwerp, where I met up with Jon. We hopped out at Antwerp, and our train to Roosendaal came on the same track; in Roosendaal our train to Bergen Op Zoom came on the same track but 75 yards further up; all this I already experienced on my way to record with Nicole Bianchet a couple of months ago. At Bergen Op Zoom we were met at the train station by a very happy young lady from the venue, who drove us and all our crap to the venue. By us, I mean, Jon, myself and Holly, who appeared right on time.
This was show number one of the Posies new format with new songs. Cees, the engineer worked with us to get the stage built and sound going, but our stems were just too different in volume to work with. So, luckily, the venue, Gebouw-T, has a studio inside. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the studio where I do believe Nicole Bianchet’s first album, that I mixed, was recorded. Anyway, Jon & I sweated it out, re-leveling all our stems for about an hour. This worked much better. We didn’t really know how the whole thing was supposed to sound, and I think Cees approached it like it should be a full rock show, that the stems were a replacement for a band, in a sense, so it was loud.
So, with the show, we just launched into it. No explanation. The crowd had already had a long night of music — good, but long, we had two opening bands. And they were not ready for what we were delivering. It definitely freaked people out, and it probably didn’t help that the venue used pictures of the band with Matt & Darius, when I sent ahead promo photos of just Jon & I, and explained to all that this was a duo + electronics show. This was not advertised, which is too bad. I guess people were disappointed. Which is kind of shocking, in a way, too — normally when a band comes to try their new material in your small city, you say “thanks!”. Even if it’s a little rough around the edges. But, it’s true, we were not seaworthy, and the show probably resembled a rehearsal more than a show… the local media website gave us a negative, not mean, tho, review, just saying…what we did didn’t work. And it didn’t, yet, so I can’t fault them. But we weren’t giving up so easily.
We did have a great highlight of the show — singing “Licenses to Hide” with Holly *and* Eva Auad, who’s INCREDIBLE ALBUM IS OUT NOW!!!! It came out that day. Folks, this album is the best production work I’ve done, hands down. She is an incredible talent, singing, playing piano, and writing her songs. I don’t have any adjectives that would do this record justice. It’s complete, beautiful. We worked hard, argued, struggled, re-edited…it was cared for, to infinite degrees. Please go listen NOW.
Hey, even tho our show was not really crowded, and what crowd wasn’t really into it, the people at the venue were super nice to us. They took on a big risk with us, and were completely pro when it didn’t exactly win awards. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
After breakfast and checking out, we walked to the station, which was across the street, and ate bad sausage rolls, and the handle on my guitar case broke again, and we laughed. Holly is a great person to have on tour, she didn’t let us doubt ourselves for one minute. And you know, even tho I knew the show didn’t work, I didn’t think for one minute it *wouldn’t* work. Remember, we never had time to rehearse, it took so long to make the stems plus all the other stuff we have going on.
We changed trains in Rotterdam, Utrecht, and made it to Zeist. Another smiley club worker, Anouk, picked us up, and drove us to De Peppel. De Peppel is much smaller and less fancy than Gebouw-T, it might have been nice to start here, in this more modest place. Anyway, we were armed with the experience of the day before and Eric, the sound engineer here (Anouk does monitors) worked really hard to help us get a great sound. The key has been to progressively bring the tracks down to a level that complements the duo on electric guitars…you shouldn’t have to turn us up to hear us over the tracks, they should be a shimmer of sound around us; we’re not trying to replace a full band with tracks; we’re trying to augment a duo. We did more songs just as a duo and did a bit more explaining about it. People responded better today for the most part, but, one guy was actually rude. The re-imagined version of Please Return It, which I think sounds like Beach House, ended and he actually said “the arrangement sucks!” I said that was a really stupid thing to say, and rude, and to just listen to what we’re doing before making judgments about things. It’s new, so… he said he was a fan wanted ‘rock & roll’. I said, if you’re really our fan, you know we’ve never been a conventional rock band. It bummed me out, for like, two minutes. But, I knew it was better tonite. We were getting there. Holly did a set opening the show, and a wild band from Amsterdam called Orange Maplewood played in the middle, and loaned me their pedals. Mine were…not available! Uh, in France. So, Black Horse Society loaned theirs in Bergen Op Zoom, and I got Jordy’s pedals tonite, he had some wild stuff, so it was fun. Mathijs, our friend who used to be in the Gasoline Brothers who opened many a Posies show, was on hand, he was supportive of the new direction but not w/o some critiques, but it’s all about the delivery, and also, you have to give a hoot about a person’s opinion. The loud guy, I don’t care what he thinks. Mathijs, I’ll definitely listen. He gave us a ride to the hotel, too!
The venue had checked us in and delivered keys; no one was at reception when we arrived. And they gave us the wrong keys. Jon’s worked; Holly’s worked; mine did not…we all tried. We had the room number, but not the right keys. Hmmm. I was so tired. So: Holly took a mattress off her bed, on the floor I went.
In the morning, breakfast was over. Check out was 11, we discovered, and it was getting close. Holly cleaned up and left. I cleaned up and left. We had breakfast and lunch at a cafe across the street. Not much going on in Zeist on Sunday morning. Holly & I can joke and riff for hours. The cafe had nothing for breakfast, they didn’t serve food before 12. Except, they had homemade apple pie. Which we had. For breakfast.
Jon emerged, and joined us, all three of us riffing, it’s like a Mighty Boosh episode when we get going. Note: the hotel was partially under reconstruction…the main restaurant smelled like burning wood, saws grinding etc. Even from the safe distance of the cafe it was unnerving. We had the cafe call us a cab, and we got the hell out of there. Trained to the Schiphol, and caught a little train to Hoorn’s “Kersenboogered” station. That became a riff. “Dude, I got, like…*KERS*enboogered with the guys last night at that tequila bar.”
So, I picked that station as it was quite a bit closer to the club than Hoorn’s main station. It’s the end of the line. We got off, the station was tiny, and deserted. Rain was pissing down everywhere. How do you get out? The turnstiles were automated and we don’t have transport chip cards. Turns out, you can scan the QC code on your paper ticket…*if* you clean off the glass window on the turnstile machine, which til then was coated in rain drops. Got out of the place. Nothing. Just residential streets. A few teenagers drinking red bulls by the ticket machine. Bad vibe. We walked back under the tracks and emerged in a town square with mostly closed businesses. Holly negotiated with people to use their phones and we got a cab to come, but it took 20 minutes. In the rain. Ugh. But we were laughing with the driver as soon as we got in the cab. We had to stop at a rail crossing for this 1890s passenger train to go by… surreal, we all were overjoyed. The world is absurd! RUN WITH IT.
We got to the club, which is also kind of in the middle of nowhere. It’s called Manifesto. It’s a scrappy place, with a very tall stage. Really nice people there. We felt at home. Got right in to soundcheck with Peter, the sound man, and Fati, the monitor engineer. We had last night’s show to build on, to fine tune the sound on stage and out front. They fed us chili. Let’s skip to the show.
A lot of people tonite. I think that’s good…the small crowds were real diehard fans, who apparently are attached to the era of the Posies they got to know us from — the mid 90s. We’re not in the mid 90s, so, when we brake form for the next twist, it bums them out. The bigger crowds are going to be more casual and less diehard–and less burdened with preconceived notions to disappoint.
Point is, the show was AWESOME. The energy was great. We were confident. I sang from a very deep place and poured energy into the song, whether it was a song like “Please Return It” with a backing track, or the piano “Fucking Liar”. We grooved. We joked. We took the energy up and down several times. It was a great mix of duo and electro. We engaged. We got an encore, for the first time that weekend, and that was great–Black Horse Society had learned “Flavor of the Month” and “Definite Door” and we rocked it with them. We finished up Holly singing “Licenses to Hide” with us. MAN DID THAT FEEL GOOD. KIDS, IT’S GONNA WORK.
And, Hanna Fearns was there! We adapted one of her songs for the country album, she hadn’t heard it… we played it for her back at the hotel…magic. Holly hadn’t heard Shelby Earl‘s gospel vocals on “Doesn’t It Remind You of Something”. Or Vicki Peterson‘s version of “Edelweiss”!! What a great way to go out. And of course the nicest hotel of the tour. Which meant that it would be, by Murphy’s inviolable law, the shortest stay. In bed at 1. Up at 4.45. I schlepped my stuff to the train station, just across the street, but still. My paper ticket actually opened the turnstile. Trained to the Schiphol, got the Thalys. Stopped writing this blog and slept for 2 hours. Cabbed across town from Gare du Nord to Montparnasse, the Thalys was a little late getting in but I made it.
In St. Pierre des Corps, I was met by Arno from Sweet Gum Tree a French band from near Angers. We had lunch and drove to the house, and set up and started recording…I was pretty tired but just glad I didn’t have to memorize or program something for a day…I could just…set up mics, and record. Arno’s a great player so it’s been easy. We needed some groceries tho. I recommended the Auchan near us but evidently it burned down yesterday! We went to the bio coop.
Um, we worked hard. I had a house to open up, too..laundry to do, garbage to take out. It’s all a crazy chaos. And I love it. Good night.